'God, are You there?'

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

We had argued about something - I don't even remember what now - and my teenage daughter ran into her room, slamming and locking the door.

I slumped into my chair. It seemed that this was the norm for our relationship lately. As a single parent - my husband and I were temporarily separated - I struggled to provide the right amount of love and structure. I felt as if I was failing at both.

On the verge of tears, I reached out to God in a prayer for help. At that moment, my daughter's stereo blasted on, filling our small apartment with loud music.

We lived in a quiet complex in a quiet neighborhood. I was concerned about the other residents and asked my daughter to turn down the volume. Her only response was to make the music even louder. I considered turning off the power to her room, but realized the breaker box was in her closet. It was small comfort that we were at the end of the building and that the units beside and beneath us were empty.

In frustration, I shouted, "God, are You there? Can You hear me? What am I supposed to do?" Thinking about my plea, I laughed, realizing that the music was not too loud to prevent God from knowing that I needed His reassuring care. I went outside, first of all to see how far the noise carried beyond our apartment, and second to find a quieter place to pray.

Most of my neighbors' windows were closed, as were my daughter's. So the sound didn't travel far. I settled in a quiet alcove. Feeling a little less rattled, I again prayed. "Father, this situation is out of my control. I know that Your love for both me and my daughter is big enough to resolve this. You have a perfect answer that will bless us both."

As I sat pondering my prayer, the word "consequences" boomed in my consciousness. With it came the realization that I had tried to protect my daughter from any upset during this transition time in my marriage. I had turned the other way when she misbehaved, attributing it to acting out unhappiness. Not wanting to impose yet another burden on her, I had let her get away with rudeness and deceit. In my effort to be a good - and likable - human parent, I had neglected relying on God as an ever-present divine Parent.

My next prayer was, "Now what?" I knew that God would provide me with the correct steps to take that would bless both my daughter and me. With a sense of peace, I returned to my apartment to find it quiet and my daughter's lights off. I went to bed, confident of God's care for both of us.

Having only a few months before my daughter moved out to accept a job opportunity in preparation for college, I wanted to understand that harmony was a valid part of our relationship right now, right here. I remembered a favorite quote: There is "...no lapse from nor return to harmony...."

This passage is from a larger statement found in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," a book I love, written by Mary Baker Eddy, which declares, "The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history" (pages 470-471). This concept was comforting.

I knew that this divine order had to be a part of the lives of both of us and was recognizable and demonstrable. Over the next few weeks, I was able to put in place clearer guidelines and firmer boundaries regarding her behavior. My continued prayers to acknowledge God's loving parenting of both of us helped establish and maintain a sense of peace. We became friendlier and more courteous to each other.

It's been nearly five years since that occurred. My daughter is just about finished with college, and has lived successfully on her own most of that time. We've both learned more about trusting God and are grateful for the recognition of divine order that supersedes human will and satisfies human need. This larger view of parenting has blessed us both.

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